T he red, orange and yellow hues of oak, maple, and cherry trees will be on full display throughout the state this weekend, but trees aren’t the only place you’ll be able to see the brilliant colors of fall. A kaleidoscope of color will be visible inside the studios and galleries participating in Vermont’s first statewide Foliage Open Studio Weekend.
More than 200 artists and craftspeople at 140 sites throughout the state, including more than 20 in Rutland County alone-many of which are located in the Lakes Region-will showcase their creative spaces Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 1 and 2.
Sponsored by the Vermont Crafts Council, the Foliage Open Studio Weekend is a statewide celebration of the visual arts and creative process that has long been held over Memorial Day Weekend. During the event, Vermont artists and craftspeople invite the public to visit them in their studios. This year marks the first time the council has held the event during the fall.
“Visitors have consistently regretted not being able to see all the studios in one weekend and have asked us to have a second event. Many have specifically asked for a foliage event because they see it as a natural fit. They expect to drive around the state to view foliage, and the studios give a structure and destination to the drive,” Martha Fitch, executive director of the council said.
Open Studio Weekend features nearly every artistic medium you can think of. Visitors will have the chance to display the work of glass blowers, jewelers, printmakers, potters, furniture makers, weavers, ironworkers, painters, sculptors, quilt makers and wood carvers.
Besides their work, some of the studios will host gallery talks, feature special exhibits, and demonstrate and explain their creative processes.
Karen Deets is one of the local artists who will demonstrate how she creates her various fused and traditional stained glass works.
Deets, whose studio is located in Fair Haven, participated in the Open Studio Weekend for the first time this spring.
“I’m kind of new in the area. I’m originally from New Jersey and I’m trying to get my feet wet,” she said. “I’m not saturated in the area, so this is an opportunity to show off my work. My daughter did it with me in the spring and it’s a good way to let people know I exist.”
She said when she worked in New Jersey autumn was the “big selling season” as people began to look for gifts in advance of the Christmas season.
“I think it’s kind of exciting to approach Open Studio Weekend as part of the fall,” she said.
Her work consists of a combination of modern and traditional techniques and she said living in Vermont has helped influence and advance her work.
“I think of myself as more of an artist here than I ever did before. I really draw inspiration from nature and that’s reflected in my work,” Deets said.
She expects to have some of her stained glass work on display in addition to fused glass jewelry and Christmas decorations for those hoping to get a jump start on the holiday season. There will also be some refreshments courtesy of her daughter.
Castleton-based artist Susan Farrow is another local artist participating in the event.
“I’ve done it for many, many years,” she said. “Originally it was set up for crafts and we started to encourage them to include more artists and it worked and they’ve kept it going. It’s a great event and one I particularly love. There’s never an expectation of a sale; it’s a chance to talk about your work and answer questions.”
Farrow uses pieces of metal she finds along the road or under old bridges to create portraits and images which she then frames. One image on her website shows a portrait of Andy Warhol next to old Campbell’s Soup can, capturing perfectly the essence of the renowned pop artist.
“Some are humorous and some are serious, but they are all very accessible,” she said.
Besides her work, her studio is unique in that its’ housed within an old church that has been meticulously transformed over the last 18 years into a space she describes as “exquisite.”
Although her work and that of her late husband is familiar to many in the area, Open Studio Weekend continues to present an opportunity to introduce her work to a new audience.
“There are some people that come that at other times wouldn’t come. The Open Studio Weekend feels comfortable; it’s a very warm and welcoming weekend,” she said.
Besides Deets and Farrow, artists in Pawlet, West Pawlet, Poultney, Middletown Spring and West Rutland, to name only a few, will also be participating.
Yellow signs will mark the way to participating studios and maps will be available at the Chaffee Art Center in Rutland and the Brandon Artists Guild. Additional information, including a complete list of artists and a downloadable map, is available online at www.vermontcrafts.com.